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Improve audio with markers in iMovie [Tutorial]

Quickly make precise adjustments to your soundtrack with the help of iMovie's markers

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The new Mavericks-compatible version of iMovie represents quite a departure from the previous incarnation, with a number of its more advanced features either removed or hidden away. This isn’t as much of a cause for concern as it appers at first glance though, as there’s still plenty of functionality to be found within the confines of the software, if you know where to look.

So in this tutorial, join us as we demonstrate how to polish up a project containing audio from various sources. We’ll look at how to add a soundtrack, use markers to help control the level of your original audio using volume curves and fades, and how to line up your video clips with audio cues and soundtrack regions.

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Screen Shot 2014-02-27 at 10.34.15Step 1: Add soundtrack

Here we have an iMovie project containing a title and various holiday clips. We want to add a music soundtrack, so we drag in a prepared audio file from Finder.


Screen Shot 2014-02-27 at 10.34.27Step 2: Balance clip volume

Each video clip has its own audio, as captured when it was filmed. The overall volume of each clip can be balanced against the music by adjusting the clip’s volume control line.


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Step 3: Get specific

To change the volume level of just one individual section of a clip, first position the playhead at the start point of the section you want to adjust the level of.


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Step 4: Add markers

Then press the M key on your keyboard to place a marker. Markers appear as blue blobs on top of the clips. Do the same again for the end of the desired section.


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Step 5: Define region

Click and hold on the clip at one of the markers. When the cursor changes, drag to the other marker to define the desired region. The selection region should snap to the markers.


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Step 6: Adjust region volume

Now, when you drag upwards or downwards on the volume control line within the highlighted region, only the volume for the highlighted region is affected.


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Step 7: Adjust fades

You can now also adjust the fades in and out using the handles provided. Drag the small dots horizontally to adjust the duration of the fade, for smoother transitions.


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Step 8: On the fly

You can also add markers by pressing the ‘M’ key on the fly as your movie plays. Here we’ve marked out the downbeats for every bar of our soundtrack music.


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Step 9: Line up

If we do the same with the clips of the girl dancing, the markers make it easy to line up the video in time with the music track. Once this is done, we can mute the original audio.